Escudo de la República de Colombia

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Decontaminating the air in Bogotá would avoid 21,000 adult deaths

A UNal study says that the Kennedy area would be the most benefitted community if the 2010-2020 Decennial Air Decontamination Plan would be applied in a local and not homogenized manner as the current plans in place.

Bogotá D. C., 23 de abril de 2014Agencia de Noticias UN-

The UNal study is a tool which helps determine the health benefits to the community by improving air quality.

2. In 2010 there were 223,000 deaths for lung cancer in the world due to environmental pollution.

3. One of the main challenges of the Decennial Air Decontamination Plan for the 2010-2020 period is reducing particulate emission towards the standards accepted by Colombian regulations.

4. The Kennedy area would be the most benefitted community if the 2010-2020 Decennial Air Decontamination Plan would be applied in a local and not homogenized manner as the plans are currently in place.

5. Bogotá is ranked sixth in Latin America as the city’s with most particulate matter in the air (PM10).

6. In most of the city of pollution levels are beyond the rates suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Bogotá is ranked sixth in Latin America as the city’s with most particulate matter in the air (PM10). Precisely, one of the main challenges of the Decennial Air Decontamination Plan for the 2010-2020 period is reducing particulate emission towards the standards accepted by Colombian regulations which is 50 micrograms per annual cubic meter (µg/m3).
 
However the current measuring method could be underestimating the real impact of the phenomenon because the city is taken as a whole and not categorized in zones to establish which are the most vulnerable.
 
To solve this issue UNal Chemical Engineer Edison Yesid Ortiz modified the measurements taken in Bogotá, taking up the previous work performed by Universidad de los Andes’ Juan José Castillo which was used as the basis to establish the Decennial Plan.
 
According to the research the purpose was to determine how each area of Bogotá could benefit if atmospheric pollution were reduced. For this he used the Zonal Planning Zones (UPZ, for its Spanish acronym) – an urban subdivision of the city which gathers several neighborhoods in Bogotá– such as what is known as localities.
 
For Ortiz, most parts of the city levels are above the suggestions provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), which established that air pollution is a carcinogenic agent for human beings.
 
For example in 2010 there were 223,000 recorded lung cancer deaths in the world due to environmental pollution.
 
Therefore the estimations carried out by the Decennial Plan established that if the regulations to maintain PM10 emissions at 50 µg/m3 were complied, in a decade there would be approximately 13,000 less deaths in people older than 30 years of age.
 
Nevertheless the method used by Ortiz, which focused on zonal studies, demonstrated that 21,000 deaths could be avoided in the same age range. Therefore in economic terms, the benefits would be approximately COL 18,000 million (US $ 9.33 billion) in healthcare bills alone plus COL $21.5 billion (US $10,000 million) in mortality rates. That is five billion pesos more than estimated by the Decennial Plan (close to COL $16 billion).
 
Furthermore, there would be 12,000 fewer hospitalizations due to respiratory causes in children under 5 years of age, 900 fewer deaths of infants under a year old, 3,800 fewer emergency room cases, 34,000 fewer patients with Acute Respiratory Disease and 2,500 fewer entrances to intensive care units. 
 
Study monitoring
 
To establish the decontamination benefits for every UPZ and locality, the researcher analyzed eleven air quality monitoring stations in Bogotá for each hour since 2010. Then he assessed the PM10 particulate concentration at ground level (inmission levels) and drew a temporal line to perform the comparison.
 
In another manner, the calculation consists of making a projection to the year 2020 where PM10 decreases yearly and conforms to the regulation of 50 µg/m3 per year. In turn, Ortiz says that to characterize the impacted population he used UPZ population distribution and also by gender from 2005 to 2015, from data available from the Office of the Planning Secretary of Bogotá.
 
Finally Ortiz said that, “To refine the results we need to improve the quality of the data provided by official agencies, for instance, an updated census, fragment the information even more and create air quality models which better represent the spatial distribution of pollution in the city.”

(Por: Fin/DMMH/GAC/SUP
)
N.° 608

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